Friday, September 4, 2009

Summer of '81... continued

When I think about summer and beaches and kissing cute boys, I can taste the Bonnie Belle watermelon lip gloss. While I might not be able to remember his name, or the words we said to each other, I can remember the smell of Hawaiin Tropic blending with the smell of his Aramis cologne. And I remember the sensation of my stomach dropping like an elevator when I saw Bumper Boat Boy walking down the boardwalk, looking around the beach, presumeably for me.

My experience with boys up until this point was pretty much limited to liking them and hiding from them. And, of course, my willingness to gladly give my own life, if called upon to do so, for Shawn Cassidy. Or Andy Gibb. I had survived my freshman year of high school relatively unscathed, and was looking forward to the tenth grade in the fall. It was time. I wanted to head back to school with a story of summer romance, complete with a kiss.

I waved, a nonchalant wave, like a "Hey, over here," wave. It was an effort of restraint, because what I wanted to do was stand up and wave both arms over my head, flagging him down, yelling "I'M HERE, I'M HERE! OVER HERE!"

He smiled. He headed my way. He sat down on my oversized beach towel, next to me.

We talked about schools (he was going to be a senior). We talked about hometowns (he lived there in Mississippi). We talked about what it was like to work all summer long at the amusement park (pretty cool) and about how hot it was at the beach (very.)

I don't remember the words. I remember how close he sat next to me, how we were reclining. I remember the electric-shock sensation of the outside of his bare foot brushing against mine as we sat on the beach towel, propped up on our elbows, legs stretched out in front of us, feet in the sand. I remember my mind whirling, 1,000 thoughts per second. How is my breath? God, did I really just say that? I am so lame. His teeth are kind of crooked, but he still has a great smile.

We went for a walk along the shore. We held hands. The electric-shock sensation traveled from the tips of my fingers to the tips of my toes. Literally. I felt like I was plugged in and lit up. It was a new sensation, and not at all unpleasant.

It seems like only minutes had passed before he had to leave. It was time to go to work, back to the Bumper Boat grind. He asked me if I'd be back to the amusement park before I left the beach, and I said no. Our walk along the shore became a walk up the boardwalk and, eventually, a walk across the parking lot. To his car.

He asked if I wanted to sit in the car for a few minutes, you know, and keep talking. I don't know why I said no. Maybe it was the 98 degree heat. But I said no. And so it was time for him to go.

I was leaning against his car, some kind of a hatchback. It was orange. It was old. It was exactly the kind of car that a cute boy with a summer job in Mississippi would drive. It was hot to the touch, burning the small of my back as I leaned against it, leaning away from Bumper Boat Boy, as he came in for a kiss.

I was leaning away from the one thing I'd been waiting for all summer long. All adolescence long, to be honest. But the closer his face got to mine, the less I pulled away, and pretty soon I was leaning in to meet him.

And he kissed me. I don't remember exactly what coastal town we were in, but I remember the taste of purple. Grape Hub-a-bubba bubble gum, to be precise. Overly sweet. His tongue felt kind of gritty, thrusting into my mouth, which, frankly, was a surprise. I understood the mechanics of a French kiss, but the reality of it was a bit of a shock. Also shocking was the immediate ache I started to feel, the first strong pulls of adolescence desire, which was, to say the least, overwhleming. Thank God I hadn't gotten into that car!

I remember an eternity of kissing. I wasn't sure what to do with my hands. His hands were around my waist and caressing my back. My lower back. Like almost on my ass, but not quite. In retrospect, he seemed to know exactly how far not to push this, like he could sense the fact that I was either going to melt or run away at any given moment. As far as first kissing experiences go, I'd say I lucked into an excellent partner.

I settled for arms around his neck. I remember opening my eyes a couple of times, to peek at him. His eyes were closed, dark eyelashes resting on his cheeks.

And though it seemed like an eternity, it was over in the blink of an eye. He was pulling away from me, we were face to face again, and he was saying goodbye.

We exchanged addresses. I'm not sure what his motive was. Mine, of course, was to develop a long-distance letter writing relationship, complete with vows of eternal devotion and tragic longing. In 1981, the idea of exchanging phone numbers was ludicrious. It would be long distance! So expensive! My parents would never go for it.

I know that I never received a letter from him. And I am pretty certain that I never wrote one either. But I'll never forget the drive home, back to New Orleans, in the back seat of the family sedan, listening to FM radio, Allen Parsons Project, "Time," and already starting to weave the story into something just a touch more dramatic, in preparation for heading back to school.


Joanna said...

Awesome. I need to work on my first kiss story because it is not romantic or really a story.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

This was so penetrating and beautiful, Shana.

"I remember the taste of purple" is genius.

Anna See said...

Aaaaah. This takes me back. You did such a great job capturing this for us with your words.

Keetha said...

That was worth the wait! You brought it all back so vividly.

Little Girl Big Glasses said...

Wow - you painted a great story, thank you for sharing your memories and helping me remember mine.